Colorectal Cancer Risks and Prevention

If you are 45 or older, you should start getting screened for colorectal cancer. Your doctor is the best source for knowing what type of screening is best. If you have a strong family history of colorectal cancer or other types of cancer, you should let your healthcare provider know.

Risk factors for developing colorectal cancer:

Body weight- Being overweight or obese increases the risk for colorectal cancer. Try to maintain a healthy weight and avoid weight especially around the midsection.

Smoking- Long-term smoking is linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, as well as many other cancers.

Diet- A diet high in red meats (beef, pork, and lamb) should be avoided. Also, avoid processed meats such as sausages, hot dogs, and lunch meat. Eating meat grilled at a high temperature is also linked to an increase in risk for colorectal cancer.

Alcohol- Several studies have found a higher risk of colorectal cancer with increased alcohol intake, especially among men.


Physical Activity- Increasing your level of activity lowers your risk of colorectal cancer and polyps. Moderate activity lowers your risk, but vigorous activity might have an even greater benefit.

Diet-Overall, diets that are high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains have been linked with a lower risk for colorectal cancer, as well as other types of cancer.

Vitamins- Some studies suggest that taking a daily multi-vitamin containing folic acid, or folate, may lower colorectal cancer risk. Other studies have shown that magnesium and calcium are beneficial in lowering risk.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs- Many studies have found that people who regularly take aspirin or other NSAIDs, such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen, have a lower risk of colorectal cancer and polyps. However, aspiring and other NSAIDs can cause serious or even life-threatening side effects, such as bleeding from stomach irritation or stomach ulcers, which may outweigh the benefits of these medicines for the general public. Yet, for some people in their 50s who have a high risk of heart disease, where low-dose aspiring is found to be beneficial, the aspirin may also have the added benefit of reducing the risk of colorectal cancer.

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